Child abuse prevention is a hope of all of us.  Prevention efforts are promoted by agencies, government officials and professionals in the field.  Research to learn effective methods of prevention is ongoing. Three categories of prevention are generally described as:

  1. Primary: efforts aimed at the general population to keep abuse from occurring.
  2. Secondary:  efforts aimed at a particular group with an increased risk, to prevent abuse from occurring.
  3. Tertiary:  efforts aimed at preventing abuse from happening again to those children who have already been abused.

This section will focus on primary and secondary prevention programs, the prevention of abuse from happening even once.

Most community strategies for prevention of physical abuse focus at the individual, families/relationships, social/community and cultural/society levels.  These are based on the components of the ecological model of child physical abuse.

Graphic of Ecological Model of Child Physical Abuse
Modified from Howze, DC, Kotch J.  Disentangling life events, stress and social support:  implications for the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.  Child Abuse and Neglect 1984;8:401-409